Google says iOS privacy summaries will arrive when its apps are updated

Search and advertising giant says it is working to 'understand and comply' with Apple's upcoming changes to app tracking.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Apple

It has been over a month since Apple began publishing privacy summaries in all of its app stores across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, with developers now needing to answer a questionnaire as part of submitting an app or update -- but there has been one big tech giant-sized exception not providing new information for users, Google.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Google said it would supply information to Apple when its apps are updated.

"As our iOS apps are updated with new features or bug fixes, you'll see updates to our app page listings that include the new App Privacy Details," Google Ads group product manager Christophe Combette wrote.

Also due to arrive for users of Apple's ecosystem is a new app tracking permission prompt appearing when apps want to track users, such as accessing an advertiser identifier (IDFA), which arrived as part of iOS 14.

On this point, Google has not quite worked it all out yet.

"When Apple's policy goes into effect, we will no longer use information (such as IDFA) that falls under ATT [ App Tracking Transparency] for the handful of our iOS apps that currently use it for advertising purposes. As such, we will not show the ATT prompt on those apps, in line with Apple's guidance," Combette said.

"We are working hard to understand and comply with Apple's guidelines for all of our apps in the App Store."

Google said the ATT changes, due in the next iOS beta release, will lower the amount of data advertisers can access, such as ad conversion data, and app publishers could see "significant impact" to ad revenue on iOS.

"We're working with the industry to give Apple feedback on how to further improve SKAdNetwork so advertisers can measure their campaign results accurately on iOS 14," he said.

"We also encourage advertisers to monitor the performance and delivery of all iOS App campaigns closely and, if necessary, make adjustments to budgets and bids to achieve their goals."

On Thursday, Apple took a swipe at the ad industry with its A Day in the Life of your Data report, which said apps, on average, had six trackers from other companies that "have the sole purpose of collecting and tracking people and their personal information", and the industry collects $227 billion in revenue each year.

"Privacy means peace of mind, it means security, and it means you are in the driver's seat when it comes to your own data," Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said in a statement.

"Our goal is to create technology that keeps people's information safe and protected. We believe privacy is a fundamental human right, and our teams work every day to embed it in everything we make."

Earlier on Thursday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission added to its list of historically questionable decisions by proposing Australia adopt a common transaction ID.

"Industry should implement a common system whereby each transaction in the ad tech supply chain is identified with a single identifier which allows a single transaction to be traced through the entire supply chain. This should be done in a way that protects the privacy of consumers," it wrote.

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